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Ministry of Agriculture: Belize-Taiwan Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project is a remarkable success

Posted: Tuesday, January 9, 2024. 11:43 am CST.

National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center – Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project, a joint initiative of Taiwan and Belize, has made remarkable achievements since it started in December 2015, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).

The project aims to transform the small ruminant sector in Belize, and has tackled the issues of breed quality, infrastructure, and farmer education, using a comprehensive approach.

Named the Breeding Sheep and Goat Production and Guidance System Enhancement Project, the programme started in 2015 with funding from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and executed by Taiwan International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF). The project is now in its second phase that runs until 2025.

“This project was started to address Belize’s low sheep and goat productivity,” MAFSE said.

“Sheep and goat meats are healthy dietary alternatives that are low maintenance and grow well in our climate. An analysis at that time found that the quality of breeding sheep was poor due to the fact that the paddock at Central Farm, which supplies sheep to farmers, was very small. There was also a lack of basic facilities, equipment, and training, adding to the poor efficiency of breeding activities, as a result of which production could not meet the needs of farmers.”

Taiwan President Tsai In Wen (right) at the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

The Taiwan-funded programme established a National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center which has seen significant improvements in its infrastructure. The Center now houses more than 650 sheep and goats, and has five sets of manure conveyors and a lift, increasing operational efficiency.

“Importation of 104 breeding stocks, featuring Dorper, Black Belly, Katahdin, Nubian, and Boer breeds, has resulted in 731 offspring of improved genetic quality, benefiting local farmers,” MAFSE said in a report.

“The sheep population in Belize has soared to approximately 17,264 in 2022, cared for by 474 dedicated sheep farmers. This growth is a testament to the positive impact of the Taiwanese Government’s intervention.”

The project set up a working traceability system which enhances global competitiveness and enables higher prices for sheep and goat products. The Ministry of Agriculture said it is determined to move the sector along the value chain, ensuring sustainability and profitability.

“Since entering its next phase, the project has witnessed advancements in marketing, value addition, and continued empowerment of local farmers,” MAFSE said.

“This signifies a commitment to ongoing growth and development.”

National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

The Ministry of Agriculture said the partnership between Belize and Taiwan is a good example of international cooperation which promotes agricultural development and sustainability and thanked the Republic of China (Taiwan) for their constant support. The joint efforts between the two countries, MAFSE said, demonstrate the commitment to the well-being of Belizean farmers and the strengthening of Belize’s sheep and goat sector.

Breeding Sheep and Goat Production and Guidance System Enhancement Project Timeline according to MAFSE

2016-2019: First phase of sheep project

2017: 20 hectares of pasture established

2018: First sheep barn facility completed

2018: Sheep breeds from USA imported

2019: Artificial Insemination equipment acquired

          : Manure conveyor system acquired.

          : Technicians attend training in Taiwan

2020-2025: Second phase of sheep project

2020: Value chain overall analysis completed.

2021: Tractor and related equipment acquired.

2022: Second sheep barn completed.

2023: Technical training sessions of farmers carried out.

National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center – (Photo Credit: MAFSE/Google)

 

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